Overcoming Duplicate Content on Franchise Sites

Overcoming Duplicate Content
Overcoming Duplicate Content on Franchise Sites

A small business owner in the Indianapolis area recently came to me wanting help in getting his site to appear more often in Google search results. SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a common request from many small businesses and there are some straight-forward steps one can take to improve the SEO for their site, with fresh content and unique content being top priorities. But this client was different. This client was a franchisee and their site was furnished by the franchise and contained the same content as every other franchisee’s site out there. So what was this franchisee to do in order to break from the pack of duplicates and improve their SEO?

When I first checked out the client’s site, I did a quick check on Google where I grabbed a couple lines of copy from the site and searched for it on Google with the lines being in parentheses. This quickly showed me that the same lines of copy were appearing in over 400 other sites. The first thing I would recommend a client do is to rewrite every page with unique copy but in most cases with franchises, as was this one, the franchise doesn’t want you to change or switch up the copy. This makes sense since the franchise probably spent lots of money paying a marketing firm to come up with just the right copy for their brand strategy. So if you can change the copy and content and make it unique to your business, do it as it will help your site greatly with its SEO. So what’s the next step if you can’t rewrite the copy?

If you can’t change the duplicate content that you find on the home page and the services pages and other duplicate pages, you may find there are some pages where the franchise will allow you to add unique content which will help with SEO. In this client’s situation, the franchise had a testimonial section, a before/after section and a blog section where each franchisee could add their own content as long as they followed certain brand rules. In taking a look at the client’s site as well as the other franchisees in the area, I noticed some took advantage of the easier sections like testimonials and before/after pictures but none of them took advantage of the blog section. This was my client’s opportunity to stand out from the rest of the franchisees and to increase SEO to help them rank for the services they offer. By writing blog posts on a regular basis talking about the services they offer and what areas of town they service as well as educational and best practices blog posts, my client can slowly but surely start to rank higher in search results and eventually with continued focus be able to show up on page one of Google search results for the keywords that they are targeting.

If you are unable to change any of the duplicate content on your site, you may not be completely penalized by Google for duplicate content. Google has stated that they have an understanding of franchises’ duplicate content issue and are a little more lenient with their sites. With most franchises serving a certain area, their sites are optimized to show up when users search for their services or products in the specific areas. With that said, it is important to make sure that your contact information like the businesses address is on the site somewhere. You also want to make sure you submit your business to Google Business and associate your site’s URL to your business. This will help Google to know where your business is and be able to serve up your site when users in that area search for you.

There are other options to consider in getting your site to appear in Google searches. The easiest but most expensive way is to pay Google for your site to appear in one of the first 4 spots on the search results page with Google Adwords. These are CPC or Cost Per Click ads which means that you pay Google every time someone clicks on your ads. This can be really good ROI or terrible ROI for a business depending on competition in your area and the popularity of the keywords you want to be listed for. By spending some time researching the best keywords and best areas of town to advertise using tools like Google Keyword Planner, you can get some great results with Google Adwords. And Google Adwords isn’t the only CPC ad network that you can use. There is Bing Ads, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other ad networks out there. I recommend doing some research on your demographic to find out the best ad channels to use to target them before jumping into any of them.

Another option that I would look into is social media marketing. Whether you are a B2B or B2C business, your customers and clients are most likely on social media in some capacity. You can participate in the social media channels that they are active in and contribute to the conversations they are having. While social media marketing primarily costs just time, you can promote your social media content and advertise on most of the social media channels. I would personally start out by joining the channels where your demo is, add content to the channels, follow and interact with your demo on the channels, and build up a community before spending too much on advertising on the channels. If you add helpful and educational content, your followers will think of you when they need a service or product that you provide. Or they may refer your business to a friend as you have gained their trust by being a part of the community and not an outsider advertising to the community.

So whether you can remove duplicate content or you have to live with it, there are many options to overcome it and help your business show up in searches and elsewhere. Some options are easier, some are cheaper, but they all will help grow your small business and increase sales online via your business’s site and its social media pages.

Top 5 Tips on How to Write an Effective Blog Post

Top 5 Tips on Writing Blog Post

Top 5 Tips on How to Write an Effective Blog Post

One of my clients recently came to me asking how to write a blog post. He had lots of great ideas but didn’t know how to format them for a blog post. It’s actually a common question that I hear often and one that is fairly easy to answer but still requires some further input.

Write Like You Talk

The first thing I always tell clients who want to write their own blog posts is to just pretend like they are talking to a client or coworker when they start writing. If you can carry on a conversation with your clients and employees and keep them engaged in what you’re saying, then you shouldn’t have a problem turning those conversations into print and keeping them engaged with your posts. You could write white papers and research papers and more technical documents, but for clients who are just starting out with content marketing and writing blogs, I usually recommend that they write in a more conversational style.

Write About the Top 5 Things

Some of the easiest and most popular blog posts out there are Lists posts. Every second, millions of people are online searching for the Top 5 of this, the Top 10 of these, and the Top So-and-So in this place. Whether it’s the top 5 restaurants, the top 10 most popular ice cream flavors, or the top books on business ­– list posts are great for SEO and are great for your business. So what services or products do you sell and how can you turn those things into a list that your customers want to read? Your customers have probably already asked you, perhaps every day, what are the top or best choices. Just like this post, write them up for your customers to read and new customers to find online.

Write About How To Do Something

How do I do this? How do I do that? How does this happen? How-To’s are another very popular blog post that are great for SEO. People are always asking Google questions on how to do something in hopes that there is an answer somewhere out there that will help them do it. Some of my clients are a little hesitant about offering too much advice as they feel they are giving away their business secrets. But think of it as advertising your expertise on solving a problem your potential customer has. The How-To may be too difficult or take too much time for the reader to do, but now they know who to contact to do it for them.

Review Things

Share your opinion on the products or services you sell. What do you think about the latest product that you are selling? Is it worth upgrading from the previous model? How does this service compare to that similar service? Is this the best choice for the money? Customers appreciate an honest salesman and Review posts give you an opportunity to be completely honest and detailed in what you think about your newest product or service. This type of post also allows you to really get into the weeds and dive into the little details that someone looking for reviews is wanting.

Answer Customers Questions

Can’t think of what to write about for your next blog post? Just ask your customers. Whenever a customer asks you a question, write it down and keep a list going. Pretty soon, you’ll start to see many common questions that are being asked often and just like that…you’ll have your next blog post. If your customers are asking you these questions via phone calls, meetings and emails, there’s a good chance they’re asking those same questions online and looking for answers. In fact, if they’re asking them, who knows how many other potential customers are asking the same questions. Why not write a blog post answering the question and find out. You could also add an FAQ section to your site with the most popular questions or create an FAQ Section on your blog where customers can see all the questions and read the posts to find the answers.

Hopefully, this post will spark some ideas and help you get started on writing a great blog post that will please your customers and attract new ones. There are many other blog post styles and other content marketing ideas that you can use to further attract customers and we would be more than happy to sit down with you or talk with you about them. Just give us a shout and in the meantime, happy blogging.

How to Get Good Reviews from Customers the Ethical Way

How to get

 

I recently worked with a client who wanted to improve their customer review scores. While the actual particulars for wanting to improve their reviews were unique as it was tied to a financial reward incentive, the tactics to get the positive reviews can easily be applied to any business wanting more positive reviews from their customers. And it is completely white hat and ethical.

Power of Online Reviews

More often than not, your customers and clients seek out online reviews and ratings of your business before deciding to do business with you. They head to Yelp, Facebook, Angie’s List, Trip Advisor, Google Maps, Yahoo Local, Epinions and others to read business reviews. And many just Google your business’s name along with “reviews” to discover what past customers have said.

Popularity of Online Reviews

According to a recent study by BrightLocal, 92% of consumers read online reviews and 68% say positive reviews have an influence on their buying decisions. With online reviews having such a huge impact on your sales, how do you go about getting more reviews and more importantly, how do you get more positive reviews over neutral and negative ones? Just like your marketing efforts should be, you need to target your efforts on your most satisfied and happy customers.

Don’t Ask Everyone For Reviews

When I set out with to improve my clients’ review scores, I could have encouraged every one of their customers to leave a review. This could have been done with a banner on their website or for brick-and-mortar businesses; it could be a table tent or sign encouraging customers to leave an online review. While this would have helped to increase the number of reviews, it wouldn’t have likely helped to improve their review scores.

Your goal is to only communicate with and encourage those who had a positive experience to leave an online review. This can be done verbally in-person. It can be done via a postcard that you include with their receipt. It can be done via email, Facebook or Twitter. If they sign up for your newsletter, like your business on Facebook or follow your business on Twitter, the odds are that they like your business and have had a positive experience with it. There are many other channels and tactics and they differ for each business, but you should have a good understanding of where your best customers are and how to best communicate with them.

The last tip is in regards to ethics. There have recently been stories on businesses paying people to leave positive online reviews. This is obviously unethical, but there are other tactics that aren’t ethical but aren’t as obvious. You should never offer discounts or coupons or freebies to your customers for leaving a review. This is actually a common occurrence especially on Facebook and other social sites where a customer gets a coupon for taking a survey or giving a review on a review site. You don’t need to do this to get online reviews.

Once you’ve targeted your customers who more than likely have had a positive experience with your business, simply ask them to leave an online review if they have the time. Be honest and tell them that many customers rely on online reviews to help them decide which business to choose. Most of your customers will understand as they probably did the same. And if they had a great experience and like doing business with you, they won’t have a problem leaving a review for you. And if you did your screening for your most satisfied and happy customers correctly, the review should be positive. Don’t expect to rack up reviews like one could do the unethical way but slow and steady and ethically will win the game in the end.

A Tale of Two Customer Service Experiences

A TALE

 

On the morning of September 27 at 7:40 AM, I had the pleasure of having my normal commute to work being interrupted by another car who felt it was necessary to run a red light and hit my car. No one was hurt and after the police took a report, we were all on our way.

The Bad

I called my insurance company and let them know that somebody hit me and that my car was in need of repairs. Apparently, according to the regulars of the car wreck scene, one should call the liable party’s insurance company to have them handle the damages. But I did not. I called my insurance company because I thought, “Hey! Isn’t this why I pay them every month? To handle things like this?” One would assume that is the case and they can handle it, but not without its caveats.
My insurance company took care of the damages, but I still had to pay my deductible and then wait for them to get all the money back through subrogation from the liable party’s insurance company in order to reimburse me for my deductible. They also provided me a rental car but once I met the rental rate max, I had to pay for the rental even though my car was not ready. I was quite taken aback by the fact that I had to pay for something that, according to the official police report, was not my fault. My simple goal that wonderful morning was to drive to work not to be financially burdened by the mistake of some other driver.

 

I did nothing wrong that morning yet was treated as if it was my fault. Due to this experience, my family is currently shopping around for a new insurance company for the first time in over a decade. It wouldn’t have taken much for us to stay…just good customer service. If my customer was in a wreck that was no fault of their own, I would have provided them a rental comparable to their car, waived the deductible and told them that we would have their car repaired and back as quickly as possible. That’s it. It’s that simple to deliver excellent customer service. And they failed. And this would have been an overall terrible experience except for the great customer service I received from the repair shop.

The Good

You may have noticed that I did not mention the insurance company and I have my reasons. One being that two months after that accident, I still haven’t gotten my deductible back and I don’t want to ruffle any feathers until then. I’m also not a big fan of speaking negatively about companies online. If I have a problem, I let them know and hope they are smart enough to fix it. I also have no problem telling my friends and family about the negative experience i.e. Word-of-Mouth Marketing.

But on the other end of the spectrum, I am more than happy to tell the world about the positive experiences I have with businesses like the great experience I had with the Tom Wood Auto Group. My car, a Subaru Outback, was repaired by Tom Wood Collision as well as Tom Wood Subaru. They always kept me up-to-date on the status of repairs and the only thing that slowed them down was my insurance company. When I met the rental max and was going to have to pay for it out of my pocket, I asked them if they could provide me a loaner. Since my car was at Tom Wood Subaru waiting for a part, I called the dealership and without batting an eye, they said they would be happy to provide me a free loaner until my car was fixed. And when my car was finally fixed and after driving it, I noticed some issues, Tom Wood Collision took it back, gave me a free rental and fixed the issues. Awesome.

The Obvious

Great customer service is that simple. Make the customer happy and they will be customers for life and constantly tell the world how great you are. Effective marketing and advertising can only take you so far if you don’t have impressive customer service. It’s the key, the cornerstone, the linchpin of every successful business.

The Magic Word for Viral Marketing is…FREE!

 

Most of us know how ‘Free Shipping’ is a great way to attract more customers and increase sales Online, but did you know the word ‘Free’ in other ways to increase traffic and sales? By using the word ‘Free,’ you could easily increase traffic and buzz about your site and business in just a few hours time.

 

It seems like every client wants their marketing and ad firm to create a viral video or make their ads go viral. Of course, it’s not as easy as pushing a button. Most ads and video and Online content that go ‘viral’ are usually passed through the right hands like a celebrity tweeting a link on Twitter.  They could also be mentioned or picked up by a popular blogger or big news site or even mentioned on a popular TV show or radio show. But there is one way that can increase traffic to your site and this is using the word ‘Free’.

 

I actually discovered this by accident a couple weeks ago for a client. They are an Online retail store that sells consumer goods. One of their distributors was offering free samples of their products and so we put a link and button on their site for consumers to request a free sample. We also sent out the message through Facebook and Twitter and their blog. This resulted in a decent increase in traffic but then something magical happened about three weeks later. All of a sudden, traffic to their site blew up and they were getting a huge amount of free sample requests. By looking at the analytics, we discovered that a popular ‘Free Sample’ site had picked up our link and posted it on their site. But it didn’t stop there. Other ‘Free Sample’ sites and blogs picked up the link from the original site and it quickly spread through the ‘Free Sample’ community. All it took was just one spark from one site to ignite a viral storm of traffic to the site.

 

Besides the increased traffic to the site, the sample request form also captured their email and had a box to check for receiving their newsletter and weekly deals. Of all the sample requests, only 1% of the consumers opted out of the newsletter so they were able to increase their email list which is a plus. So if you want to increase traffic and create a viral response from your marketing and advertising, try offering a Free sample or a Free gift with the purchase of one of your products. But don’t stop there. Go out to the ‘Free Sample’ and ‘Consumer Deals’ sites and post your offer. You can also learn where most of the traffic is coming from, so you can post to those sites the next time you have a free sample or deal. So if you’re looking to increase your email database, increase traffic to your site and perhaps increase sales, then offer something for free and watch your traffic grow.

 

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